USA TODAY High School Sports announces its American Family Insurance ALL-USA high school boys basketball team.
The 2014 American Family Insurance ALL-USA high school boys basketball team was chosen by USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Halley in consultation with Jason Jordan of USA TODAY High School Sports, various high school coaches and recruiting analysts.
ALL-USA BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Sharman White, Miller Grove, Lithonia, Ga.
Why him? Coached his team to a state-record sixth consecutive title. His team rallied after the preseason death of freshman Terrell “Too Tall” Coleman, who collapsed during an all-star game. White has been the basketball coach and athletic director at Miller Grove since the school opened in 2005.
Coaching start: I began coaching when I was growing up in the neighborhood. My career ended a little short with injuries, but when that stopped my passion for basketball didn’t. I started out as a volunteer coach and it grew from that.
Dealing with Coleman’s death: That was uncharted water for me as a coach. Our guys were devastated by his death. Our family atmosphere was alive, and it was tested. We had to come together. Adversity shows how weak or strong you are. Our purpose in winning the championship this year was a little bit different than normal. We couldn’t bring Terrell back, but being able to win that way is a small token to give back to the family. We had No. 24 on our warm-ups, and every game there was a chair on the bench with his jersey attached. We never forgot.
Favorite musician: Stevie Wonder
Go-to dance move: The Cabbage Patch
Best recent read: Tony Dungy’s book, “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life.”It was one of the best books on leadership, not just for coaching but as a mentor and a model. He has an outstanding way of showing his character.
A winning tradition: At Miller Grove, I set the culture from day one, and all the kids bought into it. We became a powerhouse in a matter of years. We’ve had great players, like Stephen Hill (now a receiver with the New York Jets) and Tony Parker (a sophomore forward at UCLA). We lost all those guys, but the expectations are still there. Our older guys are always around during spring break and they talk to the current players.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
JAHLIL OKAFOR, Whitney Young, Chicago, C, 6-11, 270
Why him? Duke signee led team to 4A state title, averaging 27.6 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. His first scholarship offer came from DePaul when he was an eighth-grader.
Best player I’ve dunked on: Maybe my dad (Chukwudi, better known as Chuck, who played junior college basketball).
The best athletes are in: Basketball, because you have to keep your body in shape. You have to have the skill set and have to be athletic. I’ve also heard people say hockey because they do everything we do, but on skates. But I still say basketball.
Go-to dance move: Maybe South Dallas Swag or Bopping
Favorite Chicago musicians: Kanye West, Chance The Rapper and Spenzo
I’m working on: Just being in optimal shape. I’ve done a better job this year. Last year, I just worked out and didn’t watch what I was eating. This year, I’m watching what I’m eating.
Favorite meal: Frosted Mini-Wheats
Best opponent: LeBron James, at his camp last year.
I’m compared to: Some people say DeMarcus Cousins. My favorite big men were old-school guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.
Aha! moment: I think I’ve been improving every year, but in the eighth grade I went to a freshman All-American camp and played well. That really boosted my confidence.
Biggest basketball disappointment: All of our losses in the state playoffs. Usually, after each one, it took me a week before I wanted to start talking to people.
Best part of my game: My footwork and using my size to my advantage.
CLIFF ALEXANDER, Curie, Chicago, PF, 6-9, 240
Why him? Kansas signee led team to 26-1 record and a city title, though the team’s wins were later forfeited by the Chicago Public Schools after several players were deemed academically ineligible. He averaged 25 points and 16 rebounds a game. He didn’t begin playing organized basketball until the eighth grade. His father, Clifton Terry, entered the 2001 NBA draft early and played a season in the NBA’s Developmental League.
My season taught me: Every time you step on the court, you never know if it will be your last chance to play.
Favorite Chicago musician: Chief Keef
If I was still in football, I’d be: A defensive end.
I’m working on: Focusing on jump shots and on post moves, putting the ball on the floor.
Compare me to: Julius Randle
Best opponent: Jabari Parker
Best player I’ve dunked on: Jahlil Okafor
Best dunk, period: This year, against DuSable (Chicago), I came through on the break and dunked after Devin Gage gave me a pass.
Biggest accomplishment: Winning the city title.
Biggest disappointment: Losing in the first round at state.
Other than basketball, I’d like to: Explore broadcasting.
KELLY OUBRE, Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev., F, 6-7, 190
Why him? Kansas signee led team to 31-5 record, averaging 22.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.5 assists a game.
First tattoo: I got one of two hands holding the basketball my freshman year in high school.
Favorite musician: Kendrick Lamar from Compton, Calif.
Favorite teacher: Ms. Tara Cadena, for math. She’s a great teacher and she’s one of our team’s biggest fans.
People don’t know that I: Am a frequent Call of Duty player.
Skateboarding: I don’t go up and down ramps. I like to cruise on a longboard.
Needs work: My post game, but every aspect of my game can get better.
Compared to: People say Paul George or James Hardin.
Best I’ve dunked on: (Findlay Prep sophomore guard) Derryck Thornton
Favorite dunk: Left-hand tomahawk
Put the ball in my hand: My dad would always take me to his pickup games. I just wanted to be a part of that.
Backup plan: I want to major in sports marketing, maybe someday set a couple of businesses up. I like graphic design but I would also like to be a sports announcer.
EMMANUEL MUDIAY, Prime Prep, Dallas, G, 6-5, 190
Why him? Southern Methodist signee led team to 30-6 record and a Texas Christian Athletic League prep division state title, averaging 16 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game. His oldest brother, Stephane, played at Texas Wesleyan. Another older brother, Jean-Micheal, is a junior guard at Southern Methodist.
Favorite nickname: E Man
Season highlight: Winning the TCAL state title.
Favorite teacher: Caroline Hall, for economics
Need to work on: Being aggressive every play, not taking any plays off.
Go-to dance move: I do a little Nae-Nae.
People don’t know that I: Am goofy.
Put the ball in my hands: My brothers Stephane and Jean-Michael
Best I’ve played: Probably Kyrie Irving.
Best I’ve dunked on: My cousin, Daniel Ehambe (a senior guard at Texas A&M-Commerce)
I’m compared to: Some say Derrick Rose, some say Jrue Holiday, Dwyane Wade or John Wall. I feel like I play like a combination of my two brothers.
After basketball: I’ll probably start my own business.
Favorite drill: The three-man weave to two-on-one.
Favorite meal: I love chicken.
Biggest disappointment: Not getting invited to the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament.
Coach always tells us: Stop being punks.
STANLEY JOHNSON, Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif., F, 6-6, 225
Why him? Arizona signee helped Mater Dei win four state titles. This season, his team went 35-0 and he averaged 25.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. Can easily play four positions.
Favorite teacher: Mr. (Anthony) Vasquez for math and liberal arts. He keeps it interesting. He’s big on being mature in class.
The four-peat: It was a different feeling every year, because each was a different team. It was truly a blessing to win four of them. It’s hard to say which ones meant the most. I guess my freshman year, because it was my first, and this year because it was my last.
Go-to dance move: The Nae-Nae
People don’t know that I: Am a really silly person. You can ask anybody who’s been around me. Obviously on the court, I get a lot more serious.
Favorite musician: Drake
Working on: My decision-making in games.
Best opponent: I’ve been in games with LeBron and K.D. (Kevin Durant).
Put the ball in my hands: My mom (Karen Taylor, who played for Jackson State and professionally in Europe) coached me from when I was three to when I was a seventh-grader. Now, I’m trying to do my own thing.
Favorite meal: My mom’s cornbread, greens and chicken.
A shoe-in: I have like, 80 pairs of basketball sneakers. And probably 30 regular shoes.
Soccer fan: I enjoy soccer. My favorite team now is Real Madrid. I watched them play over the summer, when I was Spain. That game was crazy. It was the most intense sporting event I’ve been to.
D’Angelo Russell, SG, 6-4, 180. Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
Ohio State signee led team to 28-0 record and No. 1 spot in Super 25 rankings, averaging 18.5 points and 4.8 assists a game.
Justin Jackson, SF, 6-8, 189. Home School Youth Association, Houston.
North Carolina signee put up 42 points in a game.
Tyus Jones, PG, 6-2, 180. Apple Valley, Minn.
Duke signee averaged 25.6 points and 8.1 assists.
Trey Lyles, PF, 6-9, 245. Arsenal Tech, Indianapolis.
Kentucky signee was named the Indianapolis Player of the Year for the third time while averaging 24.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.3 blocked shots.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, 7-1, 248. St. Joseph’s, Metuchen, N.J.
Kentucky signee’s ability to play in or out of the post and his passing make him a matchup problem. He’s averaging 21.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, 6.3 blocks, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals a game.
Devin Booker, SG, 6-6, 194. Moss Point, Miss.
Kentucky signee averaged 30.9 points a game.
Malik Newman, SG, 6-3, 174. Callaway, Jackson, Miss.
Explosive scorer is averaging 29.4 and 6.3 rebounds a game.
Theo Pinson, SF, 6-5, 180. Wesleyan Christian, High Point, N.C.
North Carolina signee led his team to a second consecutive state independent schools title.
Ben Simmons, PF, 6-8, 190. Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
All-around player is as strong from the outside as in, averaging 22.7 points and 9.5 rebounds. The junior has said he will sign with LSU.
Tyler Ulis, PG, 5-8, 142. Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights, Ill.
Kentucky signee averaged 23.3 points, 6.8 assists and 2.8 steals a game, leading team to 28-3 record.